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  • With today's disk-hungry games and applications, not to mention high-speed Internet connections becoming the norm, the need for hard drive disk space has never been greater. Thankfully, hard disks are the one area of computer hardware where comparative prices keep getting better and better, while allowing a high level of backwards compatibility.

    A name brand, 7200 RPM, 30 GB IDE hard drive retails at between $110 and $130, which means adding a new hard drive is one of the most cost efficient upgrades you can make to your computer. Of course, having technicians install the components can add to the overall cost and data risk, but installing the drive yourself can not only save money but allow the most freedom in customizing the actual setup.

    Before running out and buying a new hard drive, there is certain information that you must glean from your current PC, as well as following a certain procedure for the actual install. This Hard Drive Installation Guide will deal mostly with the hardware and software installation process of installing a basic internal hard drive. Those looking for more detailed information on hard drives, such as specifications and interfaces, should consult our very own Sharky Extreme Hard Drive Guide.

    Pre-Install Q&A

    1) What are your current system specifications?
    This question boils down to finding out what your current system will support, including IDE vs. SCSI, ATA transfer rates (33, 66 or 100), and the number of available IDE channels. The best way to find this information is to consult your motherboard manual, or run through the system BIOS for data on the hard drive controller. For older PCs without IDE auto-detect, the current drive parameters should also be written down in case of a hardware failure. Those with older PCs (before 1990) and operating systems (Win 3.1 and older) should also confirm hardware compatibility with hard drives larger than 8.4 GB before progressing.

    2) What components are in your current PC?
    If your system is already fully loaded with IDE devices or the case itself has no free drive bays or ATX power cords, it is much better to find this information out beforehand. It is also a good idea to write down the brand name and model (usually shown during boot-up) for all the internal storage devices, in case you need to find detailed information on a specific device. Popular hard drive manufacturers include Seagate, IBM, Western Digital, Quantum, Maxtor, and Fujitsu.

    3) Jumper Settings:
    Many hard drives do not come with a hardcopy manual outlining the jumper configurations. If you know the manufacturer and model of your current hard drive(s), the manufacturer's website will likely have the jumper settings online. Since the jumper settings are usually listed on either the front or the back of the hard drive, there is no telling what position or visibility the current hard drive's jumpers will be in. Having the jumper settings printed out beforehand can save time by not having to remove any current hardware to get a better look at the jumper settings.

    At this point, we will delve right into the physical hard drive install, and assume that all prior research has been performed and compatible hard drives have been selected.

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